Udaipur and Amravati killings have put the focus back on Islamic radicalism
The Islamic radicals have a pan-India reach and operate through dozens of fronts across 23 states
India has been battling against radicalised and extremist groups since independence. They claim to speak for interests of Kashmiris, Muslims, Sikhs, Assamese, Naxals, Manipuris, Tripuris, Nagas, Bodos and Garos but actually fight for independence, establishing dictatorship of the proletariat or converting India into Dar-al-Islam (Islamic land). As of now, 79 of them stand proscribed, 107 are either talking to the government or observing ceasefire and 76 are still active.
But there is a difference. Islamic radicals have Pan-India reach and operate through thousands of sleeper cells and dozens of fronts across 23 states. Other outfits are confined to small areas and, hence they are containable.
The growth of Islamic radicals has been rather phenomenal particularly in the last two decades in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The most prominent outfit is Kerala-based PFI (Popular Front of India), joined by MNP (Manitha Neethi Pasarai), Thowheed Jamath of Tamil Nadu and KFD (Karnataka Forum for Dignity). Its mask for political activities is SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) and for students, it is CFI (Campus Front of India) to organise protests.
The brazenness of PFI's operations is such that one can easily find its footprints in almost every violent incident of religious nature, be it anti-CAA protests, communal riots in Delhi and Kanpur, pro- hijab rallies in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra, protest over volume of Azan or attempts at banning conversion. Other radical groups like Al Ummah (Tamil Nadu), Deendar Anjuman (Hyderabad), Indian Mujahedeen and AQIS (al Qaida Indian Sub-continent operating from Karnataka and Kerala) also maintain close connect with PFI. Most of them are also aligned with foreign terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and al Qaida.
What is worrisome is the success of PFI and others to enlist large number of Muslims from among the uneducated, semi-educated men and women, self-employed and unemployed youths and young boys and girls in the name of protecting Islam. The indoctrination of these raw minds takes place mainly in madrassas and mosques where volunteers are incessantly incited to believe that their religion and its practices are under threat and they must take the path of jihad to prevent it. Social media platforms, messaging services and videos are also used to keep ingraining this fear in their minds and preparing them to fight back. Those identified as especially initiated are given training in weapons, making bombs and learning techniques to conduct terror operations in Pakistan and in institutes that ostensibly seek to empower Muslims politically, financially and in acquiring job skills. It is quite natural that persons grown in this milieu would act only as killers of a tailor in Udaipur and a medical shopkeeper in Amravati.
It is fallacious to assume that radicals are confined to a small section of Muslim community. The majority of Muslims may not be vocal and operate as jihadis but their moral and logistic support lie with them. The few who openly disagree do not really count. Then, there are journalists, political commentators, artists, professors and social/human rights activists, masquerading as left liberals who provide intellectual legitimacy to their cause and create a narrative that draws financial and so-called principled support from suspect sources in Europe, US and Muslim nations.
Political opponents are also not far behind in giving Islamic radicals cover to carry on their propaganda against Hindus because it serves their electoral interests. One such propaganda is that mass radicalisation of Hindus is taking place to create a nation largely for themselves in which others will have lesser rights. Chidambaram smells 'saffron terrorism' in this fictitious belief and keeps shouting about it to actually divert attention from charges that his party plays blatant appeasement politics. Surely he knows that Hindu children are not taught divisive religious texts in temples or schools and there is no faith that they need to defend. However, fringe groups do exist among Hindus also who sometimes take law in their hands but their numbers are less than 0.2%.
The outlook does not look bright for the security interests of this mutinous land.
(Amar Bhushan worked with the Research and Analysis Wing for 24 years after briefly serving in the BSF intelligence, State Special Branch and Intelligence Bureau. He served as the Special Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat before he retired in 2005.)
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